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Affiliates panic over bar on Visva-Bharati

With the ministry of human resources development asking Visva-Bharati to dissociate itself from its affiliates “with immediate effect”, confusion clouds the future of 10 fledgling management and technical institutes in town. The recent directive from the Murli Manohar Joshi ministry is a follow-up of its earlier notice in August 2001, asking the Santiniketan-based university to snap ties with its affiliates.

Visva-Bharati did slash the number of affiliates from 40 to 20, but it also went ahead with an all-India admission test for its affiliate colleges early this year.

Apparently, this “clear defiance” prompted the Union ministry to dash off the fresh directive in November. Sources reveal that the ministry has even threatened to “stop” Central funds in case Visva-Bharati fails to toe its line.

“Yes, we have been asked by the ministry to dissociate from our affiliates,” confirmed Sujit Basu, vice-chancellor, Visva-Bharati. But, according to him, the process will take “some time”, as it involves the future of students. “We do not want to jeopardise the future of so many students. But, at the same time, we can’t go against the wishes of the government. We are trying to work out a solution,” said Basu.

Following the government directive, most of the affiliates have pressed the panic button.

Some of the institutes have teamed up and moved court. “The issue has a direct bearing on the careers of around 5,000 students currently on the rolls of the institutes affiliated to Visva-Bharati. The judge has awarded an interim injunction and a status quo will prevail till January 15, 2003,” said a member of the newly-formed Visva-Bharati affiliates consortium.

Pre-empting the varsity pullout, some city-based institutes have already started exploring other options. The Indian Army-promoted National Institute of Management, Calcutta (NIMC), has signed up with the West Bengal University of Technology, while the month-old Eastern Institute of Management is in discussions with Kalyani University. “We were asked by the All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to come out of the association with Visva-Bharati in order to obtain their approval,” said K.K. Chaudhuri, director of NIMC. “Visva-Bharati doesn’t have any right to approve of any institute and if it does so, it is illegal,” asserted an AICTE spokesperson.

The list of city-based institutes with Visva-Bharati affiliation includes the Eastern Institute of Integrated Learning in Management, IIAS School of Information and Technology, IIAS School of Management, Institute of Advanced Management, International Institute of Hotel Management, International Institute of Information Technology and Institute of Modern Management.

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